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Moise v. Family Dollar Stores of New York, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 1, 2017

JOCELYN MOISE, Plaintiff,
v.
FAMILY DOLLAR STORES OF NEW YORK, INC. and FAMILY DOLLAR SERVICES, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          RONNIE ABRAMS, United States District Judge:

         Plaintiff Jocelyn Moise brings this action against his former employer, Defendants Family Dollar Stores of New York, Inc. and Family Dollar Services, Inc. (collectively, "Family Dollar"), under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and the New York Labor Law ("NYLL"). Family Dollar moves to compel arbitration and to stay these proceedings. For the reasons set forth below, Family Dollar's motion is granted, and this action is stayed.

         BACKGROUND

         From approximately July 2013 through June 2016, Moise worked as a "store supervisor/shelf-stocker" at a Family Dollar store in the Bronx. See Compl. ¶¶ 7, 22-23 (Dkt. 3). Moise alleges that he worked an average of ninety hours per week without receiving overtime compensation. See Id. ¶¶ 30, 32. On August 9, 2016, Moise filed a complaint in this action, claiming that Defendants violated the overtime provisions of the FLSA and the NYLL. See Id. ¶¶ 34-39.

         On September 26, 2016, Family Dollar moved to compel arbitration. See Mot. to Compel Arbitration (Dkt. 12). Family Dollar claims that it provides its employees an online training program known as Family Dollar University ("FDU"), which includes a course titled "Open Door & Arbitration at Family Dollar." See Decl. of Matthew Broel in Supp. of Mot. to Compel Arbitration ¶¶ 4, 8, Ex. A (Dkt. 16). This online training course presents several slides and, ultimately, an arbitration agreement titled "Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims" (the "Agreement"). See Id. ¶¶ 9-11, Exs. A, B.

         The Agreement provides: "All disputes covered by this Agreement between me and [Family Dollar] shall be decided by an arbitrator through arbitration and not by way of court or jury trial." Broel Decl. Ex. B at 1 (boldface in original). Under a section titled "DISPUTES COVERED BY THE AGREEMENT, " the Agreement states: "[Family Dollar] and I mutually consent and agree to the resolution by arbitration of all claims or controversies, past, present, or future . . . including without limitation, claims arising out of or related to my . . . assignment/employment." Id. (boldface in original). "Further, " the agreement continues, "covered Disputes include any claim or controversy regarding the Agreement or any portion of the Agreement or its interpretation, enforceability, applicability, unconscionability, arbitrability or formation, or whether the Agreement or any portion of the Agreement is void or voidable." Id. The agreement then lists a number of claims that qualify as covered disputes, including claims under "all employment related laws, including, but not limited to . . . the Fair Labor Standards Act. .. and any such related or similar state or local laws." Id.[1]

         A signature line appears at the end of the Agreement. See Id. Above the signature line, the Agreement reads:

BY CLICKING THE "I ACCEPT" BUTTON OR SIGNING BELOW, I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE CAREFULLY READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS AGREEMENT AND AGREE TO ITS TERMS. I AGREE THAT THROUGH THIS AGREEMENT, THE COMPANY AND I ARE GIVING UP OUR RIGHTS TO A JURY TRIAL AND THAT PURSUANT TO THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT; WE ARE AGREEING TO ARBITRATE DISPUTES COVERED BY THIS AGREEMENT.

Id. at 3 (capitalization and boldface in original). If the employee has both downloaded and viewed the Agreement, he may then click a checkbox labeled "I ACCEPT" in the online training program. See Broel Decl. ¶ 14, Ex. A. Below this checkbox, the following text appears:

         AGREEMENT

By clicking "I Accept", I acknowledge that I have carefully read and understand this agreement and agree to its terms. I agree that through this agreement, the company and I are giving up our rights to a jury trial and that pursuant to the terms of this agreement, we are agreeing to arbitrate disputes covered by this agreement. I further understand and agree to the use of electronic method of signature to demonstrate my acceptance and agreement to the terms of the agreement.

Broel Decl. Ex. A (boldface in original). Below this text is another "I ACCEPT" checkbox. See id.

         Family Dollar's system automatically records the date and time on which an employee completes the online training portal. See Broel Decl. ¶ 17. Family Dollar's records indicate that Moise received, reviewed, and acknowledged the Agreement on September 28, 2013. See Id. ¶ 19, Ex. C. In addition, a record of Moise's "Learning History" lists the status of the "Open Door and Arbitration at Family Dollar" course as "COMPLETE, " and includes a comment that reads, "Completion noted in FDU on October 11, 2013." Id. ¶ 20, Ex. D.

         On October 10, 2016, Moise filed an opposition to Family Dollar's motion to compel arbitration, accompanied by a personal declaration. See Pl.'s Opp'n Mem. (Dkt. 18); Moise Decl. (Dkt. 17). In his declaration, Moise states that he does not "recall receiving or reviewing the Open Door Guidelines and/or Arbitration Agreement on September 28, 2013 or at any time thereafter prior to my termination." Moise Decl. ΒΆ 35. Moise also states that, even if he did access the agreement, he believes he "had no choice but to accept the terms without a full and complete understanding of the implications of the agreement because it was a computer program that required [him] to click on the screen to continue to access the next screen and that [he] had no other choice ...


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